After a hard loss, it’s tempting to want to immediately break down the game, list out all the mistakes that were made, and talk about all the areas that need improvement. But 99% of the time, those post-game team talks are for the coach, not the team. They aren’t what the team needs.
What does our team need post-game? After losses, we can have a variety of beneficial responses. Teams that need to be more process-focused and take more ownership should consider doing an AAR (After-Action Review), in which they ask what went well, what didn’t go well, and what they can improve. For teams that are struggling with confidence issues, it helps to focus on the positives and list out all the things that players did well in the game. After a hard emotional defeat, it can sometimes be as simple as reminding our players that we care for them, and we are grateful for the opportunity to coach them.
Often, players—and even coaches—can lose perspective on a loss and see it as a failure. In these moments, one of the most powerful reflective questions we can ask is, “How will we become better because of this loss?” It gets people thinking about and sharing what they can learn from the experience, but it also helps them reframe their perspective on losing. Losing a game doesn’t mean you’re a failure, and, as hard as it can be to swallow a defeat, it’s necessary for growth.